23 June 2016
Four men have been arrested as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into the smuggling of migrants across the English Channel.
The four, two British men aged 65 and 49, a naturalised British citizen of Kuwaiti origin aged 42 and an Egyptian man aged 33 were detained following a series of raids in Birmingham, Blackburn and Wiltshire on Tuesday 21 June.
The operation was carried out with the support of Lancashire, Wiltshire and West Midlands police forces, and in co-operation with the French authorities.
Cash, mobile phones and computers were also seized.
All four were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration. They were interviewed by NCA investigators over the following two days and subsequently bailed pending further enquiries.
The operation follows the report of suspicious activity involving a rigid hulled inflatable boat in Ramsgate, Kent in September of last year. It is suspected the boat had or was about to be used for the transportation of migrants illegally from either France or Belgium.
Peter Smith, branch operations manager for the NCA, said:
“The arrests are the latest stage of a complex investigation into the activities of an alleged criminal network involved in moving migrants across the English Channel using small boats.
“Our enquiries will continue and we are now analysing evidence we have recovered as part of this phase of work.”
The investigation involved officers from Project Invigor, the NCA-led UK law enforcement taskforce targeting the criminal networks behind people smuggling. The taskforce includes various UK partners, such as Immigration Enforcement, Border Force, the Crown Prosecution Service and police, and is the biggest of its type in Europe.